Movie A Day!: 390-396 -“Work? I saw a baby blown apart at my ‘Work.'”

How is everyone doing? Everyone holding up? Christmas and the holidays are descending like a fog and it’s hard not to get caught up in it. I continue to not feel the spirit. Maybe it’s from being old, single and childless, but in the “take it or leave” it side of Christmas, I could leave. Except for the turkey dinner, I like that part. I’m going to try to get out a bit over my Christmas week off work and hopefully not get totally despondent like I usually do. Hopefully all of you do the same.

Here’s my last week of films, some really good ones!

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390 12-15 Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman (1943) 4/5
I’m rating this one higher than a non-fan of the series would. This was the first big monster meetup picture for the Universal Monster series, and as such acts as a sequel to THE WOLFMAN and THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN. That said, it’s more of a sequel to Wolfie since it largely follows the story of Talbot and his werewolf curse. Anyway, it totally delivers and manages to be a really dark picture as far as tone goes. It’s also notable for being the only time Bela Lugosi would play Frankenstein, and he does a pretty good job other than they fucked him over. Carrying on from GHOST, the monster was supposed to talk in this one, but the studio thought it looked corny and cut all the dialog. So you have poor Bela stumbling about with arms flailing looking a bit wonky when he’s actually playing the monster blind, which you will never know since they cut the dialog explaining the blindness. Still, in the end, it’s a hell of a lot of fun, I just wish Universal would get off their asses and restore these since the print used on the DVD is the worst one in the set, so far.

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391 12-16 Michael Buble’s Christmas in New York (2014) 2.5/5
12-16 A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) 5/5
12-16 Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales (2002) 1.5/5
Yup, I’m still getting rooked into Christmas specials. This year, 2014, is the year in which some new singer named Ariana Grande is on every TV special. Some how dopey Canadian crooner Buble roped her into singing on his special. Grande is technically a good singer in that she hits the notes, but she’s one of those soulless, mechanical singers that appear to be reading a phone book, with no care or effort happening, that always spooks me and makes me not like them. This special is also the second special to feature the legendary Rockettes kicking their legs all over the place. I don’t get them either. Give me some tap dancers and I’m in. This corny revue stuff leading into leg kicking is a bunch of bullshit. The highlight, and the reason I’m giving it 2.5 stars. is Buble sings “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Miss Piggy, with Miss Piggy taking the rapist part that the guys usually sing. Awesome!

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS is a classic that you should have seen by now. The other one was terrible, featuring gaggy vignettes that I’m guessing were taken from the actual daily strips. It didn’t work as a cartoon special, and actually put me off getting some of the beautiful strip reprints that Fantagraphics have been putting out.

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392 12-17 Captive Wild Woman (1943) 3/5
Ever wanted to see a movie where a mad scientist turns a gorilla into a beautiful woman that can control lions and tigers to help a circus act? Here’s your chance! This is as wonky a Universal Horror title as you will find, and a heck of a lot of fun. To a point, and that point is to be found in how much animal mayhem you can enjoy before thinking thay should leave the poor wild beasts alone. Seriously, nearly half of the 61 minute running time is tiger and lion taming, and it’s just inherently cruel right? At least they got to be in the movies so we could enjoy their torture forever and ever. Right? Hello? Still with me?

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393 12-18 Zatoichi in Desperation (1972) 4/5
Zatoichi star Katsu directs this one, the second last film in the original series, and holy shit is it a dark one. At this point, Zatoichi is pretty much running on instinct and barely able to live with himself after all the constant failures of redemption and killings that go with them. It’s got the typical, trying to help people and gets mixed up with the Yakuza plot, but everything is gritty, poor and brutal. Katsu does some unnecessarily flashy flourishes in the directors chair, but it doesn’t take away from the naturalistic feel of this one. One more film and I’m done. I DON’T WANT IT TO END!

394 12-19 Noah (2014) 3.5/5

Maybe it was low expectations due to this one getting a critical thrashing but I really liked it. It’s a gonzo version of the Noah’s Ark story, but I’m fine with the filmmaker taking liberty with the source material, especially if it’s Darren Aronofsky. Visually impressive like all his work, and the film moves at a pretty quick pace. Russell Crowe and the rest of the cast are just as good, and it’s nice to see a Bible film deal with the real world ramifications of “miracles” in a more realistic way (despite this being a fantasy picture) than in wonder and awe of how amazing things are. If that makes sense.

395 12-20 Prisoner of Paradise (1980) 3/5

Adult auteur Bob Chinn takes on WW2 with John Holmes with this one. Holmes washes up on a deserted pacific island, only it’s not deserted after all. Nazis have set up a secret listening post, run by a porky dude, and two wicked female guards, one of them porn legend Seka. Everything is set-up to be some prime, gonzo Nazisploitation, but Chinn plays it more like a straight WW2 actioner with porn in it, so it never really takes off despite the cast all doing a pretty decent job acting. Seka as the nasty bitch head guard and Holmes as the burned out navy survivor steal the show, but there isn’t much to steal in this one.

396 12-20 Out Of The Furnace (2013) 3.5/5

This one seemed to sneak out last year with no one really talking about it. Christian Bale stars as a steelworker who is trying to keep his family together after a brief prison stint for a DUI accident. It plays like the character study type noirs that came out in the seventies, in a good way. Pitch perfect performances abound with Casey Affleck as his troubled little brother, Willem Dafoe as a small town gangster and Woody Harrelson as a violent, hillbilly sociopath. This is such a different film than what typically comes out these days with a cast like that, it’s well worth a sit down to watch.

There it is, not a huge week compared to some I’ve had, but all the films were good so I’ll take it. OUT OF THE FURNACE is really sticking with me, two days later. Definitely one I’ll spin again at some point and will recommend.

This is probably my last until Christmas, so have a happy one doing whatever you do or don’t do around the holiday you may or may not recognize. To quote Paul F. Tompkins;

“Don’t get drunk and fight each other.”

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Movie A Day! 383-389 – White Guys In Peril

Another short week. Well, short based on my usual standards. I’m still playing around with my PONO player (LOVING IT) and staying on top of the holiday stuff. I don’t go big on holidays, but there always seems to be some little, dumb stuff to do and it all takes time. I still have to wrap presents. I’ll get to it one night. I hope. Blurgh.

On with the movies. I seemed to have a “White Guys in Peril” thing going this week, only one of them was really good. As fate has it, I watched the good one first.

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383 10-07 Dallas Buyers Club (2013) 4/5
Finally got around to seeing this one, and I don’t have much to say about it. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto are as good as everyone says they are in it, and they manage to tell the story straight forwardly instead of trying to hammer you over the head with the emotional stuff like most films of this type. For a film dealing with AIDS, that’s a rare thing. I give it a recommend.

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384 10-08 Night Monster (1942) 3/5
Another loopy “Old Dark House” style mystery/horror from Universal. A paraplegic rich guy and his crazy sister have invited a bunch of Doctors over who tried to save his limbs after some accident, and they start getting knocked off by some mystical creature from folklore. The doctors get knocked off, not the rich guys limbs. Like I said, it’s loopy, but well done with a neat mix of science and hoodoo to the whodunnit aspects to keep you interested. Sadly, Bela Lugosi is completely wasted in the role of “Butler”, but thankfully a swami is able to “will” a skeleton holding a chest of jewels into existence, WITH THIS MIND!

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385 10-09 Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (1964) 5/5
I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t watch this one at Christmas. You’d think it would be corny, but I’m constantly entertained by Santa Claus, and how much of a total asshole he is in this. Fun stuff, and every person currently employed in the field of CGI should watch this one as a masterclass in restraint in animation. Sure it’s due to a low budget, but the puppets in this display about a billion times the personality that the majority of CGI characters with their 10 trillion strands of independently moving hair have.

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386 10-11 Zatoichi At Large (1972) 4/5
Another week, and Zatoichi. This one has Zatoichi stumbling upon a pregnant woman who has just been robbed, and taking charge of delivering her newborn baby to her husband’s village when she dies in childbirth as an excuse for Zatoichi to get mixed up in Yakuza subplots. At this point, Zatoichi as a character is pretty much reviled by all, so there’s a constant sense of dread that really ups the plots and performances. So yeah, I’m still loving this series.

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387 10-11 Eric Andre Show Season 2 (2013) 4/5
Breezed through these 10 episodes. It helps that they’re less than fifteen minutes each, but more importantly they continue to be deliriously hilarious. Even when bits flop (and a bunch do), it’s still dead on funny. Episode 10 has got to be one of the strangest, most demented twelve minutes of TV to have aired.

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388 10-12 Captain Phillips (2013) 2.5/5
Tom Hanks. As soon as you see Tom Hanks in a movie now, you know it going to be the type of film that tries to push you emotional to be a bit weepy. Tom Hanks though typically is really good and makes good films. This one, based on a true story about a cargo ship that is attacked by Somali pirates and the title Captain kidnapped for ransom, fits the bill of a “typical Tom Hanks” film. the problem with it is, the pirates are more interesting than the white guys on the ship, and Captain Phillips is such a fucking idiot making lousy choices that you never really care if he gets saved or not.

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389 10-14 Lone Survivor (2013) 2.5/5
This is a pretty typical modern day war film, in that they try to hit you over the head with the “ra ra BAND OF BROS!” bullshit before showing you the horrors of combat in an attempt to squeeze false sympathies from you. It can work (as it did in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN), it doesn’t work here. The actors are game, but director Peter Berg (BATTLESHIP) can’t handle the subtlety required, so despite it being a true story, you never really give a shit. That said, the combat bits, basically the last three quarters of the film, are pretty good and pretty gory so you at least stay interested, just not invested.

Some of these posters kill me. That CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, spoiler alert, but his tale of survival is nothing to write home about. In fact, you could argue that he was inept and the whole thing was his fault. The weirdest thing with that poster though, is you can’t help but think “Oh dear, black people on my boat!” I should dock this one another star, but I wont. This was also a rare week where I didn’t watch a single adult film. No naked penis or boobs in sight. I’ll have to double up next week!

Movie A Day!: 377-382 – “What’s Your Favourite Grammy Memory?”

As predicted, this week was a little shorter. Evenings seemed to get away from me, both with family stuff, x-mas stuff, and my new PONO player arriving! What’s PONO? It’s a iPod basically, but designed for playing high rez music. I tested it by playing the high rez album and swapping between it and a vinyl copy. There was no difference, which means it works! So I believe in Neil Young and the PONO promise. Dumb thing though is loading music is really slow. They’re still in Beta, so hopefully that sorts itself.

Enough jibber jab about a music player you monsters don’t care about, on with the movies you will never watch!

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377 12-01 Zatoichi Meets the One Armed Swordsman (1971) 4/5

This one was another great one. Zatoichi gets mixed up with the legendary One-Armed Swordsman after unfortunately named Yu Wang kills a bunch of Shogun Samurai trying to protect some Chinese immigrants in Japan. As I said, it’s pretty great with an uneasy alliance between Zatoichi and Wang made all the worse due to them being unable to speak to each other due to the language barrier. It makes for some natural comedy and intrigue, and the movie is the typical suspenseful burn that manages to match up the typical Samurai Zatoichi stuff with the more flamboyant (and kind of corny) Kung-Fu that Yu Wang is known for. It gets a solid recommend.

378 12-03 Christmas in Rockefeller Center (2014) 2/5
12-05 A Grammy Christmas (2014) 1/5
Since dad passed away, I’m getting sucked into watching all the shitty Christmas shows. Rockefeller’s excuse was the lighting of a Christmas tree. It get’s two stars due to have Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga sing an actual Christmas song in a proper way. The rest was garbage. The Grammy one was total garbage, featuring a bunch of assholes who can only sing with autotune, and some British cunt named Sam something who flat out can not sing even with autotune, singing songs having nothing to do with Christmas. I FUCKING HATE THIS TIME OF YEAR!

379 12-05 Beat The Devil (1953) 2.5/5
Humphrey Bogart is back with John Huston with this one, and it’s simply okay. Which is a shame since the team-up has generated absolute classics like THE MALTESE FALCON, TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE and THE AFRICAN QUEEN, all films that should be seen if you want an understanding of movies, period. This one though just doesn’t work. Bogart plays a guy hired by some crooks (featuring Peter Lorre) to play as an inbetween so they can get into Africa and exploit uranium rights. It’s oddly played more for laughs, and the tone just never quite works.

380 12-06 The Mummy’s Tomb (1942) 2.5/5
Another sequel in the Universal Monster series, this one takes place thirty years after the last film, and finds the mummy Kharis being sent the states to kill the two goofs from the last movie that desecrated his tomb. It’s as corn ball as it sounds, but Lon Chaney Jr. does as good as anyone can as the Mummy. I knocked it half a star for burning ten minutes of it’s 60 minute run time with clips from the previous film. It also steals a bunch of mob shots of townsfolk with torches from BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. Universal was always cheap, I guess.

381 12-06 Cathouse Fever (1984) 2/5
This is the second feature on Vinegar Syndromes PEEKARAMA disc that also featured PURELY PHYSICAL by the same director, and sadly this one was more of the same. A woman narrates her memories of working in a cathouse, and the result is a series of uninspired sex scenes and bad attempts at comedy. The best thing is the goofy song in the trailer that rips off the Ted Nugent “classic” “Cat Scratch Fever”. So this disc was one of the rare clunkers in the VS catalogue. It was bound to happen when you’re featuring on average 6-7 movies a month.

382 12-06 The Eric Andre Show Season 1 (2012) 4/5
I’ve only become aware of this one recently, and boy do I love it. It’s stupid, and a rip of the superior THE TOM GREEN show, but it’s gloriously stupid and I love this show! If you like Tim & Eric, Tom Green, Jackass and other brilliant stupidity, you should like this.

There it is, another week down. I’m nearly finished my x-mas shopping, so I should hopefully get more movies in next week. I enjoy the giving of Christmas, but man, the shopping is a total ball ache. I couldn’t imagine having to buy for kids. Actually, kids are easier since they’re monsters and will tell you what they want instead of the vague “Oh, anything is fine” that us jerk adults pull with a false modesty. Or is that a Canadian trait? I don’t know, I just find it stressful and usually give up.

“Quitting” is my new, yet old, jam.

The End

Movie A Day! 369-376 – Grumpy Old Man

Here we are with the round-up! And it’s a month end one as well, hence I’m late posting it! Boy, November flew by. I got in a few movies, which is surprising since this was a busy weekend. It was Black Friday, which is an American Armageddon like event for shopping. We don’t really do it here in Canada, but the local record shops do participate in the Record Store Day event with exclusive releases. So this weekend has been a lot of record listening in my house. I also got notice that my PONO player will arrive early this week, so I have a feeling that movies will take a little slide this week too. Let’s look at what I watched, and be prepared for a bit of a bitch over the first one.

369 11-23 The American Music Awards, The Country Music Awards, The Hollywood Film Awards (2014) 1/5

I didn’t watch all of these on the one day, but over the past couple weeks. Part of looking after an older parent is you get to watch stuff that you normally wouldn’t watch. The Hollywood Film Awards has to be the biggest pile of back slapping bullshit I’ve ever seen. The winners know they won, so one of their friends gives an admiring speech and they accept the award. Ridiculous. The CMA’s was just god awful. Modern country music continues to sound like shitty hair metal power ballads from the 80’s and I hate it. The AMA’s were pretty much just as bad aside from a some good performances by Taylor Swift and some girl band I never did catch the name of, Crystal Head? I don’t know, but the rest of the acts were the shits. Give me my old garbage over this new garbage that features Lil Wayne honking like a duck with something caught in it’s throat.

370 11-24 Zatoichi Goes To Fire Festival (1970) 4.5/5
Film 21 in the series and holy shit did it not disappoint! Zatoichi is labeled to be killed by a blind Yakuza boss, and the battles of wits and swords is fantastic! There hasn’t been a single dog film yet in this collections, and this one was one of the best.

371 11-25 The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) 3/5
This one is simply good enough. Bela Lugosi is back as Ygor, and he finds Frankenstein’s other son to get the monster going again. The current Frankenstein has figured out brain transplants so things get goofy. Lon Chaney Jr. gets a crack at playing the monster and he does a great job, as does Bela. It’s all just a bit too goofy in comparison to the previous films.

372 11-27 Two Rode Together (1961) 3.5/5
This is the last film in the John Ford Columbia Pictures Collection put out by TCM, and the only one in the set that is a western. Starring James Stewart as a total asshole marshal/bounty hunter who is hired up by Richard Widmark’s army to make a deal with some evil Indians to trade back kidnapped kids. Ford supposedly hated this one, and Leonard Maltin shits on it a bit in the extra features, but I’ve seen worse. Stewart and Widmark are both great in it which helps make up for the scripts shortcomings, like the annalistic racism that it’s riddled with. It’s definitely the ugly brother to Ford’s masterpiece “The Searchers” which deals with similar themes. In the end, it’s a Ford western, if you’re a fan, it’s worth checking out.

The Goonies Movie Poster

373 11-28 The Goonies (1985) 2.5/5
Re-watched this one for the first time since seeing it in the theaters back when I was 11 years old or so. Yeash. I didn’t care for it then, and I just don’t care for it now. This ones considered a bit of a classic these days, so I was hoping to be surprised. Nope. The kids are all great, especially Sean Astin and Josh Brolin. My problem is I have no tolerance for eight kids all yelling wisecracks at and over each other for two hours. If you don’t mind the racket, there’s lots to like in this one.

374 11-28 Pretty Peaches (1978) 4/5
After Vinegar Syndrome released Pretty Peaches 2 & 3 earlier this year, I figured this one would continue to go unreleased. Low and behold, they put it out as a limited edition blu-ray with a regular DVD coming next year. Looking fantastic, it was great to see the one that spawned the sequels. While the sequels felt more like loop carriers, this one feels like a proper film with a genuinely funny story that is still packed with sex. Desiree Cousteau makes her debut in this one as Peaches, and she is perfect as the pouting and perturbed amnesiac constantly being taken advantage of in every way possible. The rest of the cast is just as good, and this one makes it clear that prior to the video era, de Ranzy was up there with Henri Paris as far as being able to make quality films that happened to be porn. This Vinegar Syndrome blu also includes clips from the only known filmed interview with de Renzy, on top of a movie looking better on disc than most mainstream films from the same era. If you like the idea of a Russ Meyer movie done hardcore, this one is the one for you.

375 11-29 F For Fake (1975) 4/5
More of an essay than a documentary, this is Orson Welles looking at Elmyr de Hory, the worlds most notorious art forger who was biographed by Clifford Irving. While in production, it was discovered that Irving forged the infamous Howard Hughes Autobiography. Welles himself is a famous fake, responsible for the War of the Worlds hoax, so it’s a film about fakes, made by a fake. It’s a whirlwind of theory, editing, all solidly in Welles hands, and it breaks your heart that Welles never had a chance to have this much control on his films since it is a wonder to behold. Cheeky, funny, interesting, and all Welles, it’s highly recommended.

376 11-30 Invisible Agent (1942) 3/5

This one finds Griffins grandson trying to avoid his grandfathers horrible legacy of invisibility only to get swept up in world war two after nazi agents track him down and try to brace him for the formula. It’s straight up WW2 propaganda, but it mostly works and is a lot of fun, especially Peter Lorre playing a Japanese agent after being typecast from his Mr. Motto role. Oh yeah, it’s pretty racist and of it’s time to.

Not a bad week, or month really. No horrible films watched, aside from those dumb awards shows. Let’s look at the final numbers.

30 Watched,  22 First Timers,  0 Theaters

Actually nailed a movie a day! I think this is the first month. Still nothing at the theaters. I just have little desire to bother going. That said, I really need to see Interstellar in the IMAX.

Let’s see how I did last year:

31 Watched, 22 First Timers, 2 Theater

Look at that, one more watched and the same amount of new films! That’s never happened. This is creepy, let’s move on.

Best of the month is: F For Fake, Pretty Peaches, all the Zatoichi films I watched and Wreck-It Ralph.

No worst of the month, other than the award shows. And maybe The Goonies though it’s really not a bad movie, just too annoying with the kids.

That’s it for now, thanks, as always for reading.

The End

 

Movie A Day!: 355-363 – “Bring Me Down I’m Scared!”

Right! Another week, another list! I didn’t get in a full ten titles this week. On Wednesday night I actually left the house and saw the wonderful Sadies perform. This is my third time seeing the band, and they are easily one of the the top five live acts I’ve seen. You have to be dead inside to not get swept up by them. Anyway, on with the films!

355 11-09 The Dollop – Live at Podfest (2014) 3/5
I’m kind of sneaking this one on here. This is one of my favourite podcasts, and they put this one up on YouTube to watch. If you like weird history, this is the podcast for you. While this episode isn’t as bonkers funny as some of their other ones, it’s still pretty fun.

356 11-09 Marvel 75 Years – From Pulp To Pop (2014) 2.5/5
Typical, back slapping PR kit style profile about how great Marvel Comics is, with none of the real story in it. So if you want to hear the official, super happy fun-guy version of where the characters came from, and how they were exploited into a movie franchise, then this is the one for you. Those of us wanting a more truthful look at Marvel will have to keep waiting. My favourite bit: Stan Lee being celebrated for challenging the Comic Code despite Marvel being one of the founders of said code, which was created to put EC Comics and other publishers out of business since Lee and his shitty monster books couldn’t compete. They didn’t mention that later bit…

357 11-09 Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970) 4/5
This one was ridiculously good. The plot is basically what the title says, the blind swordsman meets Yojimbo, the classic character from the film YOJIMBO by Akira Kurosawa that inspired A FIST FULL OF DOLLARS which kick started the “Spaghetti Western” genre. Got all that? You did realize that Samurai and western films are all connected right? Now go watch KILL BILL again. Anyway, Zatoichi and Yojimbo are both in town and after a score of gold being hidden from Yakuza bosses. It’s an incredibly complex, twisty plot, and it works like gangbusters. There’s only a few of these films left in the boxset, and I’m going to miss them when I’m done.

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358 11-10 Red River (Theatrical Version) (1948) 4/5
This one is Howard Hawks other classic western that isn’t called RIO BRAVO. This one also stars John Wayne, and it’s the first time that Wayne played an anti-hero. His character here is an embittered rancher that is obsessed with driving his massive herd of cattle up the Chisholm trail to market. Walter Brennan plays his old partner, and Montgomery Clift plays the younger partner that Wayne took in as a child. So really, it’s a generational story of three men, their roles and how their relationships change with age. It’s a great film, the cattle scenes are amazing, and the character interplay is even better. I plan on watching the preview version sooner than later since I think this is one where you get more out of it each time you see it. This was one of my dads favourite films, so it was a shame a decent version took so long to come out not that he’s not here to see it.

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359 11-11 Wreck-It Ralph (2012) 4/5
Finally got around to the Disney film that couldn’t have been more made for me. It’s flat out “TOY STORY” but with video games, and it couldn’t be any better. John C. Reilly is great in the title role as the bad guy wanting to be a good guy, and Sarah Silverman is equally great, maybe surprisingly great in a role that doesn’t allow her to say “Cunt” repeatedly. Anyway, they nail the world that had to create for the story to make sense, and all the cameos of classic game characters was a fun trip down geek memory lane.

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360 11-13 The Black Cat (1941) 3/5
This is another Universal Horror that is named THE BLACK CAT and it has nothing to do with the previous film of that title, despite Bela Lugosi being in it in a small role. This one is basically a “Old House” type mystery. An old woman is reading her will, and now people are getting knocked off. It’s notable for it’s ridiculously strong cast of Basil Rathbone (Known for the Sherlock Holmes series), Broderick Crawford (ALL THE KINGS MEN) and Alan Ladd (SHANE) in an early role. Sadly, a lot of this one is played for laughs, mostly at the hands of comedian Hugh Herbert whose schtick doesn’t hold up very well today. It’s still a fun watch though.

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361 11-14 Tropic of Desire (1979) 3/5
This is one from the later “Porno Chic” era by Bob Chinn. It’s a pretty ambitious piece, set during the later part of WW2, about the goings on of a whore house in Hawaii. It’s all played surprisingly serious, and while sex is obviously at the forefront, it’s not really at the expense of characterization. It’s hurt a bit from typical porn budget production values, but not enough to kill it’s ambitions. Plus it has a recreation of a classic smoker that has some startling acts that’s more than worth the time to watch as the sort of freak show you don’t usually see in movies anymore.

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362 11-15 Rolling Stones From The Vault – Hampton Coliseum 1981 (2014) 4/5
The Stones are opening up their archives and seem to be pumping out releases faster than ever. I think this is the first one “From the Vault”, and thankfully it’s pretty great. This was the first concert sold as a closed circuit pay-per view, and the Stones are in fine form supporting their most recent album TATTOO YOU. The highlight is Keith Richards clobbering a fan across the head with his guitar when the fan rushed on stage at Jagger. Richards doesn’t miss a beat and they finish the encore “Satisfaction” as if nothing happened. So yeah, greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world, right there.

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363 11-15 Fantasy World (1979) 2.5/5
This one is the back-up feature on the same disc that TROPIC OF DESIRE was on, and also directed by Bob Chinn. It’s good, but it’s basically a loop carrier. The skimp plot is some Navy sailors are on leave (using the same boat sets and costumes found in TROPIC, so I’m guessing these were filmed back to back) in San Francisco who are looking for a live sex show. They enter Fantasy World, and proceed to watch and participate in the stage show/fantasies. The porn is fine, but there’s not much to note since none of them get all that weird despite Chinn’s artistic ambitions. The most notable thing ends up being legend Paul Thomas going back to his pre-porn JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR days (he played Judas in the film), writing and performing the theme song “If Wishes Were Horses”. All said in the end, this is yet another PeekARama disc from Vinegar Syndrome that offers some good value for the price.

So there it is. Even the dog films were pretty good this past week. Red River really was great, I might bump it to 4.5 on a second viewing. The theatrical is the directors preferred version, but he had to trim the ending. That ending is on the longer preview version. So the actual directors cut would be the theatrical with the preview ending. Oof! It’s kind of weird watching though since I know dad would of loved seeing it looking so good on blu.

Anyway, that’s enough until next week. Going to try to finish up the season of Doctor Who this week, on top of the usual movie watching.

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Movie A Day!: 347-354 – November is Here

It’s finally November! You know what that means? No more horror films! Okay, there’s still horror films, but it’s mixed with the usual Samurai and porno. Yay!

347 11-01 Samaritan Zatoichi (1968) 3.5/5

The 19th film in the series is as good as the rest of them. Fantastic cinematography, style and music help make the same old plot work. That and the kickass sword play of course.

348 11-01 Wanda Whips Wall Street (1981) 3.5/5
I rarely revisit porn films, but Distripix re-released this one in it’s proper widescreen format and colour corrected and what not, so I gave it a shot. It was worth it since this one is a hell of a lot of fun. Veronica Hart (BOOGIE NIGHTS) stars as the title character, who moves to the big city and sleeps her way through a stock brokerage firm in a bid to take it over. Legends Jamie Gillis and a startlingly young and handsome Ron Jeremy are investigators brought in to stop her. It sounds like a typical porn plot, but director Larry Revine really mines it for comedy, sometimes at the expense of the actual porn. It manages to be legitimately funny and I was constantly reminded of the pre-code films from Hollywood’s golden age that has similar plots. Hell, Barbara Stanwyck pretty much owes her career to playing similar roles, it’s crazy that it took a film from the tale end of the “Porno Chic” era to mine such a natural genre honestly and not just exploitatively.

349 11-02 Man-Made Monster (1941) 3.5/5
This one is basically a Frankenstein retread, with Lon Chaney Jr. as the title monster. Chaney plays a man who seems to have an immunity to electricity, so a crazy scientist uses him to experiment on, zapping him so full of electricity he gets a death touch. It’s actually pretty good, and the movie is stolen completely by the pet dog that is best buds with Chaney prior to the experiments. That damned dog will break your heart, and it’s rare that a universal movie not named BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN breaks your heart.

350 11-03 Horror Island (1941) 2.5/5
This one is about a couple of schmucks who get involved with a treasure map and the search for pirate gold. They end up on a haunted island and there’s some shenanigans with a creep trying to stop them. It’s all played for yuks, and the mystery element is a bit shit so it never really works. Certainly a lesser film in the Universal Horror cycle. Let’s forget all about it and the fact that I hit another milestone type number, film 350, with another crappy movie.

351 10-07 Hearts & Minds (1974) 4/5
This one is a documentary on the Vietnam war, kind of. Instead of dealing with just the facts of the war, it deals more about how it came to happen and how it affected culture both in America and Vietnam. Made when the war was going and produced by the same house that put out “Easy Rider”, it’s obviously anti-war, but it’s never preachy or hippy dippy. Instead, it’s confrontational and quite shocking at times seeing some of the uncensored footage. It all adds up to being “good”, in the way that “Shoah” is good, but not really a great time. If that makes sense.

352 10-08 Jerry Lee Lewis – Live in Austin TX (1983) 4/5
This is an hour long performance recorded for “Austin City Limits” and captures Lewis at the top of his game. The Killer was always the guy from Sun Records that kind of got kicked around, compared to his label mates Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. It’s a shame, since he really is an insanely great entertainer, and you could argue that he is the definitive honky-tonk musician, effortlessly going from country to rock to gospel. Bonus is watching him play the piano, where he shows a dexterity up their with the best of the stride players.

353 10-08 I Love Lucy: The Complete Third Season (1953) 4/5
Not much to say other than this was another fun season. They kept the baby in the background, which is a good thing since forcing baby jokes into a sitcom that doesn’t require it is never a good thing. The high point is a 2 part storyline featuring Tennessee Ernie Ford as a lost cousin visiting the Ricardos. Ford is deadly funny as a stereotypical bumpkin, and his appearance really kicked the gang into overdrive.

354 10-08 Deep Inside Annie Sprinkle (1981) 3/5
I was kind of disappointed by this one, and I think it’s due to high expectations. It’s a title I had heard lots about, Sprinkle went from porn star to activist to feminist performance art, and all on her terms. This was the first film that she directed (co-directed really, with legend Joe Sarno), and while it’s kind of cute, it’s basically just a wall to wall sex film. Which is fine, but I expected more since she produced and wrote it. Which is stupid since it was made before all the above activism, performance art, etc. Anyway, it’s not terrible, I just expected it to be more.

There it is. Week one done. I hit a milestone, film 350, and it was crap. Since the horror challenge I’ve been binging on Walking Dead, Doctor Who, Agents of SHIELD, all those dumb tv shows that had the nerve to start while I was watching horror movies.I’m holding off on starting Gotham and Constantine. Constantine is probably going to be canceled so I’ll probably skip it entirely. Gotham I might get to once I catch up on SHIELD. The Flash can fuck off since I’m yet to watch Arrow, and I just can’t seem to get excited to watch Arrow.

Speaking of the scary movie challenge, I won it! I had the most watched, beat the next guy by 5 titles, due to him watching a bunch of TV horror that counts as less. So I get a bunch more movies to watch! Huzzah! See, there are actual rewards to watching all the movies, not just 3 weeks of diarrhea!

Dare to live your dreams people!

Movie A Day! : 161-167 – “Invasion of the Bees”

Another week, another blog. I’ve managed to stick to my 3 times a week workout as discussed previously. It’s slow going, but good. The eating part isn’t going as well sadly. I feel the need to eat the snacks I own so you know, FAT! I’m off work the next couple of weeks, just a staycation. I had some plans, but I feel like scrapping them. I’m used to being alone and whenever I have time to myself I just hermit. It’s got to be depression right? I’m not SAD, but I’m not happy either. Just nothing. Let’s fill the void with movies! HUZZAH! I managed to watch two different movies largely about bees. Accidental theme week!

161 07-14 Wings of Life (2011/2013?) 3.5/5

One of the jewels in the Disney crown, back when Walt still ran the show, was the TRUE-LIFE ADVENTURES series of feature films and shorts. Basically nature documentaries that told fun little stories of the animals depicted. What they may of lacked in hard science they more than made up for in entertainment and won the studio a slew of Oscars. All but abandoned, in the past 10 or so years Disney relaunched the series under the DISNEYNATURE banner, and every release has been really great. If you love the critters, and boy do I love critters, these dumb movies will have you squeeing all over the place, probably with tears in your eyes. This one wasn’t as good though. It looked like it was going to tell the story of bugs and butterflies and what not, and it does, but it’s all centered from the flowers point of view. Which is cool and novel, but it all gets a bit much in the narrative department and there’s never the tense, dangerous moments to really stir you up. That said, the photography is absolutely astonishing, and even the heavy handed environmental message (about the bee situation that actually is as dire and deserving of heavy handed attention as any ecological threat) makes it all work. It’s just no AFRICA CATS which has you going out of your mind watching lions raise their kittens. (All baby cat like things are kittens, I don’t care what anyone has to say about it.)

162 07-14 Ernie Kovacs: Take A Good Look (1959-1961) 4/5

This was a bonus disc included with the previously reviewd 6 disc set. It features nearly 3 hours of episodes from Kovacs TAKE A GOOD LOOK game show. It’s a panel show where three celebrities have to guess who a special guest is, based on three sets of clues. Kovacs had free range to produce the clues as skits, and you’ll never see more baffling surreal clues in a game show. It’s genuinely hilarious, and I could easily watch this 50 year old game show every day.

163 07-16 Zatoichi and the Doomed Man (1965) 3.5/5

Another fine installment. I think this one is film 11, so I’m not quite halfway through the initial series. This one see’s Zatoichi getting wrapped up in more yakuza troubles after being forced to help an innocent man sentenced to death. Not much more to say, the plot is a bit simpler than the previous one, but it’s still a fine film. The character continues to grow, he actively tries to avoid getting mixed up in all the intrigue, it’s pretty much a force of fate that guides him. The swordplay is typically excellent, this one featuring even longer takes of the flashing blade that genuinely makes things breathtakingly exciting. I’m going to continue to ration these to one a week, but I could easily binge watch this set.

164 07-19 Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973) 3/5

I think this one is a knock-off of “The Stepford Wives”, though it beat the film version of the book to the box office. It’s a pretty goofy Sci-Fi horror about a town where men are winding up dead after having sex, due to Bee Girls which behave like queen bees and fuck men to death. It’s pretty sleazy, with most of the exploitation tropes of the era on full display, which makes it a fun watch. I have to admit, I’d fall for a Bee Girl, they’re pretty fabulous with their big sunglasses on.

Buzzz Buzzz!

165 07-19 God Bless Ozzy Osbourne (2011) 3.5/5

After the success of THE OSBOURNES, Ozzy became a pop culture joke. This documentary, produced by his son Jack, helps put him back into context as one of the most successful singers in music. It covers all the basics as far as a documentary goes, from his poverty riddled childhood right up to this 60th birthday and finally celebrating sobriety. In fact, the whole thing is really about his struggle with addiction. Since I only knew the very basics of his story, I found this genuinely interesting.

166 07-19 Bijou (1972) 4/5

This was Wakefiled Poole’s follow up to his hit film BOYS IN THE SAND. This one too is a hardcore gay porn, but the step up in quality is massive. Where as BOYS was basically a loop carrier of 3 vignettes, this one has a proper plot. A construction worker witnesses a woman get hit by a car on his way home, and snatches her purse that falls at his feet. Once home, he discovers a ticket to “Bijou”, and goes there. This one is silent like his other pictures, but the level of craft is surprising considered it was largely shot in his own apartment. His skill as a theatrical producer really shines, as well as his use of in camera double exposures and what not. So instead of playing like a porno for the raincoat crowd, it really feels more at home as an art film since the mood and shots allow for different interpretations. For example; you’re never sure if the lead is straight or gay. It’s things like this that elevate it. As per usual, Vinegar Syndrome put this out looking beautiful with some nice extras, including an introduction and commentary by Poole that was interesting and informative.

167 07-20 Jackass Presents : Bad Grandpa (Extended Cut) 3.5/5

Liked this one in the theater, and really enjoyed revisiting is with the extended cut. Not much different between the two I don’t think, just scenes playing out a little longer so you get more ball sack. If you like Jackass, I’m sure you’ll like this. If you hate Jackass, then you should probably skip it.

There we are! Not a bad week of movie watching. I just got a load of Criterion releases in the mail as I was prepping this, so theirs a chance we might be seeing some fancier movies in next weeks round up. You will come back to see right? Remember to share and like this if you can. Maybe I can get rich with a popular blog? HA!

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